Tag Archives: hardware

Why isn’t IT market intelligence obsessed with optimising the multibillion-dollar mature industries?

I’ll level with you, I‘m confused.

When I look at recent premier IT events such as Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona and CES in Las Vegas, I see an industry that is almost entirely focused on the future. Obviously, technology players want to accelerate innovation – the event programme at this year’s MWC for example includes a session called the “4th Industrial Revolution”.

But what about optimising the performance of the mature €650 billion[1] European IT market? Compare the MWC and CES programmes with the Consumer Goods Forum, the premier gathering of the food and drink sector, at €1,048 billion[2] making it the largest manufacturing industry in Europe, and you’ll see a programme in which innovation is there, but sitting alongside good stewardship of their well-established sectors.

In a mature industry, performance parameters are well known, top line growth is small, big players that can’t keep up get acquired by nimbler competitors, and optimisation is key. As well as innovating in emerging technologies, the IT industry should be innovating in its core businesses to optimise performance in the mature sectors. One example – in an area I know well – is how companies see the role of sales tracking in the new world of established technologies, grown up now after 30 years. The over-complication of market intelligence (MI) offerings here is causing a raft of issues, and users of this data should be demanding better. To paraphrase a few people, I’ve heard:

“We are drowning in data, we just don’t know what to do with it …”

“We spend so much time compiling different sources that the real analytics come as a second thought”, and

“We don’t fully understand what each dataset actually represents, or how to act on it.”

In the IT sectors, this sentiment isn’t exclusive to vendors – it is shared in their channel by distribution and reseller partners –it being generally accepted that MI data is sub-par as delivered today.

This problem has been around for quite some time. In a previous role at one of the largest and oldest technology firms in the world, I worked with one of the most sophisticated MI solutions I’ve ever seen. “Well done them”, you might think. In reality, it wasn’t without strife. It took the company over three years to design and implement that solution and, to this day, it still requires many people across the globe to combine multiple data sources into ‘one version of the truth’. The company implemented this solution at the tail end of what was generally considered the ‘maturation’ of the PC industry. Any other company thinking of undertaking a similar task today in the printing, display, PC, or other flat or declining mature industry, would need to be resource-rich and highly committed to the cause.

Whilst it is imperative to stay abreast of shifts in consumer and business trends, managing the at-risk 1% of a multi-billion-dollar established industry is as important, if not more so in some cases, as getting established in multi-million-dollar upcoming categories. Indeed, the frustration voiced by the industry would suggest that this is the case. Is it possible that many participants in these mature-technology industries are struggling to monitor and protect their cash-generating business, and that this impacts their ability to invest in new technology in the future?

What is needed to fulfill the requirements of such companies? At CONTEXT, we are working with our customers and partners to address this issue, and have designed a number of new services that provide both broad and specific analyses of mature IT product categories. The key focus areas for this new breed of deliverables are reliability, cost-effectiveness and simple implementation, so that instead of drowning in data and wasting time trying to bring together multiple data sources, the user is able to integrate information easily into existing operations and spend time more productively in improving their business. In essence, that’s our aim at CONTEXT: to help our customers and partners Optimise Today, and Accelerate Tomorrow.

by TP


[1] EITO Report Western Europe 2013/14

[2] Food Drink Europe 2014

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Filed under Enterprise IT, Market Analysis, Mobile technology, Networking, Retail

Life is good!

It was a different CONTEXT Channel teleconference today. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, and not only were the CONTEXT Distribution Panel revenues up 9.6% to €11.5bn in the second quarter of 2014 compared to the same period last year, for the first time in years we had good news about the PC market.

“But I thought PCs were dead?” I can hear you say. “Do they still exist?”

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and his unseasonal gift to PC makers the world over was to end support for Windows XP in April 2014. In the data tracked by CONTEXT covering distribution sales across Europe, the second quarter of the year saw desktop sales up 37%, workstations up 61%, barebone PCs up 107%, and even notebook PC sales up 12%. And most of this down to the fact that Microsoft’s workhorse operating system, Windows XP, had its life support system switched off in an attempt to force millions of happy users over to Windows 8.1.

In terms of hardware sales, it’s worked because many organisations are taking this opportunity to refresh their technology and get better and faster desktop PCs. But in terms of forcing the adoption of Windows 8.1, it hasn’t worked, and the customers are voting with their hardware suppliers by opting for the joint Windows 7 operating system with the option to upgrade to Windows 8.1.

In fact, the CONTEXT numbers as presented in today’s conference clearly show the Windows 8 share of all Windows-based operating systems declining from an average of 23% in March 2013 to around 10% this quarter, while the Windows 7/8 hybrid peaked at 60% share at the end of last year, and the new Windows 7/8.1 bundle at over 25% in June 2014, giving the combined products a total share of over 70%.

And be careful what you wish for… forcing users to change can have unexpected effects, things can happen that were not part of The Plan. For instance, a recent press report highlights an increased interest, from business users both large and small, in the virtual desktop. I’ll bet that was on nobody’s radar!

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